One-Handed Cooking: Ricotta

It has been two weeks since my surgery and I’m healing up nicely. After a slight physical therapy-related setback where any cooking was out of the question I am now ready to eat something homemade that is simple and healthy.

By the way a dear family friend told me PT = Pain! Torture! Too right.

It is interesting that I am ravenously craving dairy. I actually had a dream about cheese the other night and thought the remaining wedge of St Pat’s in the fridge was calling to me and trying to get out. Yeah, don’t say it… I know. Weird.

Anyway, this dairy craving might be due to the surgery where (not to get all gross or anything) they ground down bone in my shoulder so my body might be wanting more calcium while it heals.

Yesterday when I was bonding with my ice packs and reading Food & Wine and chatting on Twitter I decided that I could make my own ricotta at home, and make it one-handed.

Food & Wine had an advertising section for something or other that featured Michael Symond, the Food Network Iron Chef. He shared his recipe for gnocchi using fresh ricotta. It sounded simple enough.

The premise is this: heat milk and cream, add an acid which curdles the milk and creates cheese curds and whey. The whey is strained off and voila! Homemade ricotta cheese is born.

I set up my strainer over a bowl and rinsed a square of cheesecloth and laid it into the strainer. Easy.

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I poured the lovely Strauss milk and cream into a saucepan, added a bit of sugar and salt and warmed it all up just to the boil. Once in a while I stirred it. With my left hand, naturally. Still easy.

I squeezed a lemon and poured in the juice. I stirred it a bit more. Easy peasy.

The sheen of the top milk glistened and showed as a light layer of gold across the surface of the milk. Little curds began to form in the mixture.

Still stirring I let it come almost to the boil and pulled the pot off the burner. Done! Then I poured the mixture into the strainer. Super easy.

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That’s it! I retired to the settee while the ricotta drained for an hour.

There was a lot of whey in the bowl, I wasn’t sure if there was any use for it so I poured it away. I wish I knew someone with a pig or that my pal A___ could’ve popped over so her doggies could have it for a suppertime treat. The cat was disinterested.

I had a nibble. The cheese tasted nice and fresh, a slight tang from the lemon and well flavored from the salt. I spooned it into a bowl, shoved in the fridge, double-checked the St Pat’s, ate my takeout burrito and went to bed.

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Today, I was very excited for breakfast, Sour Flour toast topped with ricotta and SF Apiaries honey. Oh my goodness.

Look at that…

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A decadent bite or two later, I was in heaven.

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I ran out of toast but there was still over a cup and a half of gorgeous cheese winking at me.

This is just excessive. But in a great way.

20110414-054615.jpg(just a few spoonfuls, really, I did not eat the whole batch)

Yum.

So that is it. Super easy to make, even one-handed, and this fresh bright ricotta is super easy to eat. Why on earth haven’t I been making this for years??

Now a note on economics. Granted I live in one of the most expensive cities in the nation but organic ricotta here costs $6.99 for 15 ounces. Yes, that’s correct. Ouch.

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So let’s look at the cost of materials for my recipe:
Milk — $ 4.29 — 1/2 gallon or 8 cups
Heavy cream — $3.99. — 1 pint or 2 cups
Lemons — 2 for $ 0.69 — 6 Tablespoons

Store purchased ricotta: $ 7.46 for 2 cups

Homemade ricotta: $ 3.42 for 2 cups

———> total savings: $ 4.04

And I still have lots of milk left for the week and a cup of heavy cream for oeuf en cocotte and other nefarious purposes. One could almost buy another half gallon of milk with the savings.

Also, making ricotta myself was so quick and easy from pantry staples I usually I have on hand. Even if I needed ricotta for a recipe I could make it myself while I was doing the recipe prep or several days before. Or just make it and *eat it*.

So there you have it. Go forth and make your own ricotta.

You can even use two hands.

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My recipe, adapted from multiple sources:

2 c whole milk
1 c heavy cream
Juice of a lemon
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp sugar (I used Demerara)

Pour the milk and cream into a small saucepan and toss in the sugar and salt. Stir once in a while until is comes to the boil.

Pour on the lemon juice and stir for 2 more minutes. Remove the pan left-handedly from the burner, and let it sit for a few minutes.

Pour the curds and whey into a strainer lined with rinsed cheesecloth (rinse under cold water, squeeze dry) and let the ricotta drain for 1 hour. Lift the cheesecloth out of the strainer, turn upside down over a clean storage bowl and let the ricotta fall out of the cheesecloth. Cover and chill.

Makes about 2 cups of cheese.

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6 responses to “One-Handed Cooking: Ricotta

  1. We made homemade ricotta last night. I used buttermilk as the acid per Jennifer Perillo’s recipe. Glad you’re healing Heather.

  2. oh my goodness is right!

  3. yummy! I love to make homemade cheese. You can drink the whey or soak grains in it or give it to animals…a nice fat pig would be good! I usually soak wheat berries and feed them to the chickens.

  4. That’s a great post! And so easy … thanks! Hope you’re all healed up soon!

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